REVIEW: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

REVIEW: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne JonesThe Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
Published by Greenwillow Books (1981), eBook, 304pg
Filed under: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf.

three-starsthree-starsthree-stars

There's been an accident!
Something's wrong!

She doesn't know who she is, and doesn't know why she's invisibly floating through the buildings and grounds of a half-remembered boarding school. Then, to her horror, she encounters the ancient evil that four peculiar sisters have unwittingly woken -- and learns she is their only hope against a deadly danger.

A ghost, uncertain of her identity, watches the four Melford sisters hatch a plan to get their parents' attention and slowly becomes aware of the danger from a supernatural power unleashed by the girls and their friends from the boys boarding school run by the Melfords.

Most exciting thing about my Scribd trial subscription: finding, like, FIVE Diana Wynne Jones books I haven’t read yet! Yay!

One of those books is The Time of the Ghost, and I will admit freely that I mixed it up with A Tale of Time City for like ten years. In reality, though, The Time of the Ghost is more similar to Hexwood in structure and tone and “wtf is going on”-ness. I will also probably have to read it approx. three more times before I really like it. I am willing to do that with this book when I might not with another because DWJ’s books tend to get better the more you read them.1 Jenny agrees with me so I know I’m right.

There’s a lot of stuff in The Time of the Ghost that works better if you go into it not knowing about it beforehand, which is great for a reading experience but not so much for writing a review. But! Here are some of the things I CAN talk about:

1. Bad parents. BAD PARENTS. Maybe not on the level of trying-to-kill-you bad, but still pretty neglectful. The mother gets a little redemption at the end(?), but not really. DWJ totally avoided the scene at the end where the kid realizes they’ve been reading the situation wrong, too. You know, like this:

Parent: I have done a nice thing!
Kid: Oh, all those mean things Parent said were supposed to be jokes! Parent is kind of sad and lonely, actually.
Parent: Please give me hugs.

That does NOT happen in The Time of the Ghost, which was surprising. She must have really hated those parents.

2. Siblings! Siblings who kinda hate each other as neglected children but then grow up to like each other as adults. Yay! I like how they’re realistically terrible as children, too. DWJ writes unhappy children the best, and she does it in such a way that I want to keep reading her books even as they make me cry.

3. Malevolent ancient gods who don’t give a hoot that you’re 12 and don’t know what you’re doing, they will kill you anyway.

4. British public school boys recreating scenes from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

This is a creepy book. Creepy and depressing and slightly confusing, and it’s not my favorite. But I did still like it, in a weird way!

Read: July 31, 2014

  1. this is why, after reading it fifteen times, Charmed Life is now known as the best book in the universe.
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4 Comments

  1. >>>I will also probably have to read it approx. three more times before I really like it. I am willing to do that with this book when I might not with another because DWJ’s books tend to get better the more you read them.

    Hahaha, aw dude, this one possesses that quality to the max. I must have read–and hated–Time of the Ghost a dozen times before I finally came to love it. But I love it very much now. I love its impossible weirdness, and I love all the semiautobiographical bits, and the fact that DWJ actually toned down her parents’ neglect of her and her sisters for this book, because her publisher thought it was unbelievable when she put it exactly as it happened.

  2. I think this will be one of my next DWJ rereads, partly because it’s one of the few I’ve only read once so far but also because I know much more about DWJ herself now and, like Jenny said, this is the book closest to her own childhood and, since I know that now, I think I’ll look at it a bit differently.

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